This paper discusses the literature on the stratigraphic and structural relationships, age, depositional environments, and lithology of the McMurray Formation, with particular reference to problems involving the oil-impregnation and sources of oil in the Athabasca oil sands. The main points made by previous writers are reviewed, and an attempt is made to set them in perspective. Although the weight of evidence indicates that most of the oil was introduced into the McMurray Formation after it was deposited, and probably mainly from a Cretaceous source, it is suggested that some of the original oil content may have been derived from the erosion of seeps in truncated Devonian carbonates.

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